Demoralised staff, constant upheavals in curricula, school closures – the track record for education across Wales means the very fabric of our children’s learning is under threat.
Education is critical to the economic and cultural well-being of any nation, but our economy has been poorly served by a system ill-adapted to the needs of industry, while the nation’s culture whilst our own heritage, customs and status have been neglected.
“Wales has fallen down the international “PISA” rankings in the last 20 years,” says GWLAD’s Laurence Williams, who is contesting the Vale of Glamorgan seat in next week’s election.
“We need to address this as a matter of urgency, using modern best practices from countries such as Finland and the Netherlands where state education is of a particularly high standard.
“But the pressures placed on teaching staff, with continual reviews and changes to the curriculum and constant school inspections are not the answer – although it does provide highly paid former teachers with on-going work.
“We all know that these constant upheavals not only unsettle the staff, the pupils too are being used as guinea pigs for the latest ‘best practice’ models.”
“Further, GWLAD supports bilingualism, expanding Welsh-medium primary and secondary education to the point where it becomes the norm in every part of Wales.
“And we believe that we should be teaching the history of Wales, of the true Britons, of Owain Glyndwr and the princes of our country, of tragedies such as Aberfan endured and of Meibion Glyndwr – passionate defenders of the biggest hearted small country in the world.
“Our distinctive language and culture has kept Wales alive and prevented us from being swallowed up into a ‘Greater England’. We firmly believe that we must maintain, encourage and widen this cultural distinction as one of our unique selling points,” said Mr Williams.
“Our education system is too focused on academic qualifications, with technical and vocational qualifications being regarded as inferior,” he said. “We reject this view. It has resulted in a generation of heavily indebted students with qualifications that do not improve their job prospects.
“It also results in people without academic qualifications being unfairly overlooked for jobs which they are more than capable of doing. We advocate excellence in academic education for students suited to it, and the same in vocational education for students who are suited to that – we totally reject any distinction in status between the two”.